It will cost the government US$5 million to expand a section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway from two to four lanes at its southern end in George Town, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts confirmed Wednesday.
The expansion between the Camana Bay property and a new roundabout to be constructed just north of the Lakeside apartment complex is being done by the Dart group of companies, which is being paid out of government coffers.
The remaining section of the road, between the new roundabout and the A. L. Thompson roundabout in central George Town, will be built by the National Roads Authority.
The US$5 million cost applies only to the section between the Camana Bay property and the new roundabout.
During Wednesday’s Legislative Assembly meeting, East End MLA Arden McLean questioned why the roads authority was not being used to construct the entire expansion project.
Mr. Tibbetts said that the Dart group’s cost for expanding its section of the highway was “lower than the NRA’s in-house estimate.”
Further, Mr. Tibbetts said the roads authority’s current staffing levels would not allow it to work on both sections at once, unless it was allowed to hire a number of new employees.
“We would have preferred for the NRA to be building this, but the NRA themselves will tell anyone … as they told us, if we try to get them to do it … they were going to end up with a lot of temporary hires,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “Then, after a period of time, [we] have a whole lot of staff with nothing to do.”
The road widening is part of a much larger project – costing some $40 million – that involves the realignment of a section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, widening it at the same time.
The new road will pass underneath an elevated ramp that will allow pedestrians to safely cross above the four-lane road to and from the Camana Bay property. The Camana Bay Town Centre would also expand across the road to the other side of the highway, according to plans released last year.